Should Seniors Shower Every Day? (If Not, How Often?)

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

There will be times when seniors feel strongly against taking a shower. So read on to know if seniors should shower every day or how often, ideally, they should take one.

Should Seniors Shower Every Day
Share Post: | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | LinkedIn | Email

Income Disclosure: Product recommendations are based on my personal experience working with seniors. I may earn a commission on items purchased from affiliate links in this guide. Learn More.

When it comes to showering, the battle between caregivers and seniors can be a war without end. There will be days when there is no opposition and other days when seniors downright refuse to shower.

Bathing frequency can have a direct impact on shower safety for seniors. So, in this article, I will discuss how often an elderly person should shower and why exactly they may not want to in the first place.w

Is Daily Bathing Necessary for Older Adults?

The fact of the matter is that elderly persons do not need to take a shower every day. Shocking right? Perhaps this is not the answer you were expecting. 

In many parts of the world, adults are already taking a bath every day. In fact, others would give you the side eye if you were to disclose that you do not shower daily.

For seniors, however, daily showers are not necessary. Why? Because as you age, the antioxidants generated by the skin reduce, which results in changes in body odor. This recommendation definitely comes as a relief to many caregivers!

The skin also produces less oil, making it more susceptible to bruising and tearing. Considering this reduction in moisture, one or two baths a week is sufficient as their skin tends to be very sensitive.

Seniors also face a lot of discomfort when showering because of their privacy invasion and bathroom slippage risks.

That said, fewer baths are encouraged, and you should not feel ashamed. They’re not just comforting to seniors – they’re safer too.

Reasons Why Seniors and Elderly May Not Want to Shower

So you’ve tried to get your elderly loved one to shower time and again, but they just won’t budge? (Here are some creative ways to get an elderly person to shower.)

Before you dismiss this behavior as plain stubbornness, it is worth confirming with their doctors if other factors are causing such issues.

Here are some reasons why seniors may not want to shower.

1. Fear

A trip to the bathroom is bound to cause withdrawal and become frightening for many seniors. What, with all the surfaces made out of hard and slippery surfaces, the bathroom becomes a hazardous environment for your beloved elderly folk.

Other movements such as undressing and reaching for bathing supplies pose a significant risk for falls and slips. These activities do not inspire confidence and make seniors fear an encounter with the bathroom.

should seniors shower every day control
Seniors still want to regain their control by taking a bath independently.

2. Control

As you age, you become increasingly dependent on safety aids and caregivers to assist with daily tasks. For seniors, being able to shower and use the toilet without help is a coveted experience.

When they lose control over such a situation, it becomes challenging to convince them to shower as previously they could pride themselves on being independent and maintaining their dignity.

This change results in rebellion in an attempt to regain control.

3. Lack of Smell

As age slowly creeps up on seniors, their five senses gradually fade away. In particular, the sense of smell weakens and makes the elderly oblivious to pungent body odors such as sweat and urine that have built up over hours or even days.

Without this crucial sense, a senior may be perplexed as to why you are insisting on regular showers while, in actuality, they smell just fine!

4. Depression

When it comes to the elderly, depression can take many different forms, including a loss of interest in cleaning up. It may be appropriate to visit the doctor if a senior suddenly loses interest in maintaining their hygiene.

You should also try to determine whether the rapid change in mood is caused by poor energy or a lack of interest in everyday tasks.

Either of these reasons may explain why they are hesitant to take regular showers. Talk to a professional if they match up with other signs of depression.

5. Reduced Social Interactions

Every time you get out of your house to interact with friends and family, most people feel the need to take a shower. This thought is absent in seniors, especially those with limited mobility.

Therefore, a senior may see no point in taking a bath if they can no longer mingle with others and attend social gatherings.

should seniors shower every day dementia
Some daily tasks may be forgotten if your elderly loved one has dementia.

6. Dementia

While many people may attribute forgetfulness as a common occurrence in the elderly, it is worth noting that other seniors may have undiagnosed dementia.

Dementia may cause an elderly loved one to skip out on their shower routine, thinking they have already completed this task.

Dementia also heightens confusion and fear among the elderly. This condition may cause anxiety if the senior or elderly person cannot see the source of the water dripping onto their heads.

7. Lack of Energy and Discomfort

Some elderly folks feel they lack the energy to bathe because it is challenging. To some, the process simply doesn’t seem worth the effort, especially considering the physical risks involved.

Even seemingly unimportant problems, like walking onto the chilly bathroom floor or feeling ice cold after exiting the water, might add up and make bathing seem too much of an effort.

How to Wash an Elderly Person’s Hair in the Shower

Alternatives to Showering

When caring for seniors, keeping them clean does not mean a full bath or shower has to be involved. Maintaining good hygiene and cleanliness is essential, but a sponge bath that covers all the necessary bits will do.

On days that prove difficult to get seniors into the shower, feel free to encourage them with the following showering alternatives:

  • Use a wet cloth to wipe their underarms, faces, and private parts
  • Women should wipe private parts from front to back to avoid urinary tract infections
  • During hot weather, use a soft cloth when wiping their skin as it is prone to tearing
  • Use mild bath products that help maintain moisture and are gentle on the skin
  • Incorporate water cleansers and rinse shampoos
  • To retain warmth and privacy, uncover and wipe only the body part that requires washing

Once or Twice a Week is Perfectly Fine

Caring for elderly citizens requires patience and time, especially concerning hygiene and cleanliness. To avoid unending quarrels and battles, it is not a must that seniors shower daily.

Given their limited mobility, sensitive skin, and state of mind, once or twice a week is sufficient to maintain good body hygiene.

Sources:

  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16725-aging-and-painful-skin
  2. https://www.grab-bar.com/blogs/articles/9-strategies-to-convince-an-elderly-person-to-bathe
  3. https://dailycaring.com/senior-bathing-whats-really-necessary/
  4. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/how-to-help-with-bathing-and-personal-hygiene-top-tips-from-caregivers-212010.htm
Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

Join Our Crew!

Enter your email address to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter to get updates on new guides for seniors and the elderly and savings on senior-friendly products. And, of course, we will never sell or share your email address!

Leave a Comment